Life is all about trying new experiences, some are experiences you might have wanted to try for a while and others are experiences which push you outside of your comfort zone. The Ring of Cork is bursting with exceptional experiences. From historical experiences, family experiences, fun experiences and adrenaline pumping experiences, there is something for everyone. In this article, we are going to share with you 30 unforgettable experience you can do along the Ring of Cork. At the end of the day, it’s the new experiences you try that will become the memories you remember forever.
BALLYCOTTON SEA ADVENTURES
The Ballycotton experience is a must this summer. Ballycotton is around 45 minutes from Cork City. A fishing village in East Cork overlooking Ballycotton Bay with stunning beaches. Firstly, start the day with the Ballycotton Cliff Walk as it is known for its spectacular scenery and wildlife. Afterwards, head out on the water with Ballycotton Sea Adventures for a guided tour around Ballycotton Island, Ballycotton lighthouse and the picturesque coastline. The lighthouse lantern was first lit in 1851 and 141 years later, the last lighthouse keeper left the island due to the automation of the light. Now, you can step foot once again on the island and trace the steps and history of the Ballycotton lighthouse. The boat trip will take around 15 minutes each way and the tour of the island and the lighthouse will last around 1 hour. Ballycotton is a wild, natural and unspoiled experience and one to add to your bucket list this summer.
CORK HARBOUR BOAT HIRE
If you are looking to have a very unique experience along the Ring of Cork, we would recommend renting a boat and exploring Cork Harbour with Cork Harbour Boat Hire. You can merge exploring the picturesque harbour with learning a new skill. There is so much to explore in Cork Harbour and these easy to drive boats will increase the fun aspect on your boating adventure. You can rent the boat per hour and you will get full training before going out on the water. If you want to experience Cork Harbour without driving your own boat, you can check out their RIBS and book on a tour. Learn about the local gems, history and even spot some spectacular wildlife on the tour. Zip through the harbor in speed and comfort.
CAMDEN FORT MEAGHER, CROSSHAVEN
This historic experience is one not to be missed. Camden Fort Meagher is a coastal defence fortification located in Crosshaven. 65% of the fort is located underground in a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers. The fort was built to defend the mouth of Cork Harbour in the 16th century. An adult is €6 and a child €4 and it’s bursting with stories from the past and local history. Learn all about the history of the Fort, admire the breath-taking sea views of the harbour and discover things you won’t find anywhere else along the Ring of Cork.
CUSKINNY COURT – FOR ADVENTURE
If you are looking for an adventurous experience for a group, Cuskinny Court is for you. This is a 300-year-old, family owned estate and is packed with lots of fun experiences such as eco adventure, educational and outdoor experiences. If you are looking to get the adrenaline pumping, you can check out their water-based activities or adventure routes. Try your hand at some survival skills, zip through the forest on the zipline, go grass sledging, tackle the mucky obstacle course, experience kayaking, test your raft building skills and much more.
THE BEACH EXPERIENCE
The Ring of Cork is known for its breath-taking coastline so a beach experience is a must. Some of the most spectacular spots are Redbarn and Claycastle in Youghal, Rocky Bay near Crosshaven and the secluded White Bay beach near Whitegate. Other local favourites include Youghal Front Strand, Myrtleville Beach near Crosshaven and the very popular Fountainstown which has a direct bus service from the city. And that’s not all, you also have Inch Beach near Aghada, Garryvoe Beach, Ardnahinch beach, Ballynamona in Shanagarry, Ballycroneen Beach near Cloyne and the quieter Ballywilling Beach near Garryvoe. You are spoilt for choice with beautiful, picturesque beaches along the Ring of Cork.
Ireland is known for its rainy days so if you are looking for a fun experience without having to depend on the weather, we have the perfect one for you. The Escapade Cobh experience is a brilliant family fun activity or the perfect place for a fun night out with friends or colleagues. This gem is located in Cobh, just 25 minutes from Cork city. It is a fun and captivating indoor activity for teams for 2 to 8 people. Work as a team to escape the room by solving puzzles and finding clues to open the door.
FOTA HOUSE, ARBORETUM & GARDENS
If you are looking for a tranquil experience, Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens is for you. Fota House was designed by 19th century architects Richard and William Morrison and is Ireland’s finest example of a Great Country House. Head off on a tour of the house which costs €9 entry for an adult, €7 for a senior, €3.50 for a child and €22 for a family. On a sunny day, exploring the Victorian Working Gardens is a must. As you walk around you can enjoy the beautiful orchard, pit houses and working glasshouses. The Victorian Working Garden is open Monday – Friday and most Sundays from March to September where you can wander about and take it all in.
A unique experience in Cork has to be Zipit at Farran Woods. Whether you are searching for an adrenaline pumping experience or simply something a little different, Zipit is the perfect experience. Zipit is a treetop high ropes forest adventure park and suitable for both young and old. They have lots of courses to cater for all abilities. Whether you want to try the easier course or get your legs shaking on the advance course, there is something for everyone. Jump off the leap of faith, zip through the forests, climb the treetops or swing into the cargo nets. This experience is suitable for children from age 7 to adults and you can enjoy up to 4 hours of excitement and adventure.
This historical experience is one you will remember forever. An experience rich in history and bursting with stories. Spike Island is located off the coast of Cobh in beautiful Cork Harbour. In the last 1300 years Spike Island has been host to a 6th century Monastery, a 24 acre Fortress, the largest convict depot in the world in Victorian times and centuries of island homes. Today the island is dominated by the 200 year old Fort Mitchel which became a prison holding over 2300 prisoners. Take a tour and learn all the history of the people and places that make Spike Island so special. The ferry journey is just 10 – 20 minutes each way and you should allow for up to 3.5 hours in your visit to explore everything.
LEAHY’S OPEN FARM
This heavenly experience is one not to be missed. Leahy’s open farm is located in Dungourney, just 10 minutes from Midleton itself. Stop off at the ‘Ice-cream & Chocolate Factory’ in Leahy’s Open Farm for a sweet experience. This gem will tickle your taste buds with their homemade ice cream and will test your chocolate making skills in their chocolate workshop. A little taste of heaven along the Ring of Cork. If you are looking for more of an outdoors experience, the farm has it all. Tour the farm on the barrel train, see all the animals, slide down the big drop slide, learn to milk Maisie the cow, have fun in the obstacle and climbing playground, head go carting, find your way through the maze, enjoy the petting zone, play crazy golf, visit the museum and much more. There is so much to do and explore at Leahy’s Open Farm.
ROBIN HILL HOUSE
For a delicious experience along the Ring of Cork, stop off at the Victorian Tea rooms in the Robin Hill House. We all know the best cakes you can have are the ones you make at home and what I love about this gem is that their afternoon tea captures that homely feeling with their delicious home baking perfectly. It has been hailed as the best Afternoon Tea Experiences in Cork with a warm welcome on arrival. You can sip real leaf tea or indulge in their Artisan Coffee as you relax in their beautiful mature garden if the sun is shining or in front of the fire in the Drawing room if the weather is cold! Robin Hill is quite a Sanctuary a real example of authentic Victorian architecture with a contemporary twist. Homemade treats, finger sandwiches, cakes or a light lunch awaits you. My favourite is the lemon drizzle cake which reminded me of the one my Grandmother would make. Robin Hill is also a Failte Ireland 4-star Bed and Breakfast and is an onsite holistic centre. You can also make a day of it and book a spa treatment or keep an eye out for their ever so popular yoga retreats and make a weekend of it.
YOUGHAL CLOCK GATE TOWER
You might know of the Youghal Clock Gate Tower from passing through Youghal but did you know you are missing a fabulous experience by not going up to the top of it. Explore it’s history and stories throughout the last 700 the years with a costumed Storyteller, who will guide you over the four floors of the tower. Adult tickets are €9.50 and children are €5 and there are discounted rates for students/seniors. Explore the clock’s stories of pain, tragedy and rebellion, but also stories of love, friendship and generosity. As you move up the tower, you will find that each floor tells a story about a different era in time. Storytellers bring you from the merchant’s storeroom to a prison and finally a home, but the one thing that ties it all together is the clock was wound throughout it all. A wonderful experience that will capture your attention throughout.
One of our ultimate favourite experiences in Cork is with Andrew of Ocean Escapes. The perfect outing for any age, everyone in your group will have the time of their lives exploring the waters and coastlines of Cork Harbour. Not only is Andrew a great tour guide but he knows all the secret places to explore along the coastline of Cork Harbour and it is amazing to see all the wildlife along the way. Ocean Escapes offer lots of trips from harbour cruise, RIB charters, safari trips, corporate trips and most recently fun party cruises.
PASSAGE WEST MARITIME MUSEUM
Another fabulous historical experience is the Passage West Maritime Museum. Enjoy the experience as it tells the story of Passage West, the Birthplace of Ireland’s Steamship Industry. The entrance fee of just €2 and it is an experience well worth exploring. The town of Passage has an impressive industrial heritage dating back over 300 years. Known as ‘the original port of Cork’ it was the birthplace of the first steamship built in Ireland, ‘The City of Cork’, which was constructed in 1815 on the site of where the Museum now stands. It was also the port from which “The Sirius”, the first ship to cross the Atlantic entirely under steam, left in 1838 under the command of local man Captain Richard Roberts.
RUMLEY’S OPEN FARM
For a great family experience, Rumley’s Open Farm is the perfect day out. Rumley’s Open farm is a working farm experience which has both exotic and domestic animals. The first animal to the public farm was a llama and the first exotic animal was a marmoset monkey. The farm includes 2km of walkways, a petting zone, tractor rides, zip lines, robotic milking machine and lots of fun both indoors and outdoors.
THE WOODLAND EXPERIENCE
Nothing beats a walk in the woods as you breathe in the fresh air. The Ring of Cork has lots to choose from when it comes to picking a woods to enjoy a little bit of nature. Some of our favourites would include Ballyannan Woods in Midleton, Castlemartyr Woods, Currabinny Woods near Carrigaline, Glenbower Woods in Killeagh, Marlogue Woods in Cobh and Rostellan Woods, Aghada and of course Farren Woods near Ovens.
SAIL CORK, COBH
Nothing beats the experience of being on the water sailing with the wind blowing in your hair. Sail Cork is located at East Ferry Marina in Cobh and has over 45 years of experience teaching watersports. Head afloat on the beautiful Cork harbor and learn to sail from Eddie English and his friendly, fun Instructors. An experience where you can develop new skills in sailing, powerboating or even kayaking. Book into a course in Dinghy sailing, learn all about yachting or get your adrenaline pumping with a course on Powerboating. This experience is a perfect family day out as you can book into courses for ages 4 to 16 and also adult courses. Have some fun together as a family.
If you are looking for a family experience which will cater for both the younger and older age groups, Trabolgan is exactly what you are looking for. Located in a beautiful, peaceful coastal setting in East Cork, it provides activities to suit everybody in the family. From character fun with with PJ Mask™ (brand new for 2019) Peppa Pig and George™, Ben and Holly™ to adventure sports such as Go Karts, Water Walkerz, Zip Wire, Archery, Combat Laser and bounce zones. A facility which will definitely bring a smile to everyone’s face is their Indoor Subtropical Pool Paradise with their super waterslide, wave machine and toddlers pool. Jumping the waves at Trabolgan as a child is still one of my favourite childhood memories. This family experience is one they will remember forever.
To start your Titanic excursion, we would recommend doing a guided tour called the ‘Titanic Trail’ which will bring you around the town of Cobh, the last port of call of RMS Titanic. Go on walking tour and take the journey through the historic town of Cobh where the Titanic passengers began their journey before boarding the Titanic. The town still remains the same as it was on the day the Titanic’s passengers embarked from the Port of Cork. The tour recounts many interesting facts about the Titanic, the Titanic’s history and its association with Cobh, from when it departed on its last fateful journey nearly 100 years ago.
A Titanic experience is a must if you are touring the Ring of Cork. After your walking tour, we would recommend going to Titanic Experience which is located within the original White Star line building in Cobh. This is the building where the passengers boarded the Titanic. Get your boarding card with details of one of the 123 passengers who joined the Titanic on their last post of call in Queenstown, Ireland and take a guided tour as you retrace the footsteps of the Irish passengers on board. You will head off on a virtual journey to join the titanic for her voyage to New York.
THE JAMESON DISTILLERY
You cannot visit Midleton and not go to the Jameson Distillery Midleton. The Jameson Distillery and is spread over 15 acres with buildings dating back to 1794. All five of their experiences are fully-guided, three of which tour around the heritage grounds. You will come face-to-face with the largest pot still in the world, see the new micro-distillery in action, experience the live maturation warehouse, and taste their famous whiskeys along the way.The first is The Jameson Experience Tour which is a fully guided tour around the original Midleton Distillery and lasts about 60 minutes. You will hear all the stories from the history of the famous whiskey. You also get to tickle your taste buds by comparing three famous whiskeys, one being Jameson, and finish off your tour sipping a Jameson, Ginger & Lime in the bar. The other tour you can try is the Behind the Scenes tour which helps you gain a deeper knowledge and insight into the history and production, along with visiting some key distillery buildings such as The Cooperage and Maturation Warehouse, and hearing the stories of Jameson Irish Whiskey. On this tour, you get to taste some premium Midleton distilleries whiskeys. This full tour lasts two hours.The third experience is the Distillers Apprentice tour. This is special as it includes a visit to the live working distillery – a must for lovers of whiskey !
HAPPY FEET WALKING TOURS
Wherever we go, we always do a walking tour as it allows you to get your bearings, while also learning things about the place you mightn’t have ever known. That’s why a walking experience makes our top list today. Discover the history of Youghal on this Happy Feet Walking tour. As you walk through Youghal, you go on a journey through time and hear stories of witchcraft, piracy, famine and espionage.
If you are looking for a fun experience with your kids, be sure to check out Monkey Maze. It is the largest indoor activity centre for kids in Cork. Lots of adventure play areas which include tunnels, slides, ball cannons and much more. There is also a soft play area for younger kids so entertainment for all ages.
THE IMAGINATIVE EXPERIENCE
When your kids are young, it’s amazing to see their imagination come to life. There is a little gem along the Ring of Cork which will have your kids in amazement. Ballincollig Regional park is located on the South bank of the River Lee and much of it lies on the river’s floodplain. The park allows you to feel like you are in the countryside without having to travel far outside the city. It is a popular spot for walkers, joggers, young cyclists as people are drawn to its natural landscape. A very popular spot in the park to tickle your kid’s imagination is The Fairy Trail, a little spot where the fairies of Ireland come to live. A great idea is to bring a fairy door and place it on the trail with your little one. Get their imagination flowing. There is also a great playground, a skate park, outdoor gym as well as lots of playing pitches to enjoy.
PERKS ENTERTAINMENT IN YOUGHAL
If you are looking for a fun experience on a rainy day, Perks in Youghal is perfect. A popular spot for families as it is full of activities, fun and adventures! From an indoor play area of dreams for the little kids to bowling and quasar for the older kids, there is something for all ages including a fabulous Italian Carousal in the large indoor entertainment centre. The perfect experience when the Irish weather hits!
RING OF CORK HERITAGE TRAIL
Why not experience the breathtaking Ring of Cork Heritage trail? Explore the history of East Cork, Cork Harbour and the greater Cork region. Discover round towers, castles, cathedrals, military barracks, forts, heritage centres, museums and much more. Learn all the historical stories along the way. Just pick up a Heritage Trail Map Pad in your local tourist office or download it here and off you go on your adventure.
COBH, THE QUEENSTOWN STORY
If you are looking for an experience packed with history, be sure to check out the Cobh Heritage Centre and learn all about ‘The Queenstown Story’. Step back in time as you enter the restored Victorian Railway. Between 1848 – 1950, over 6 million adults and children emigrated from Ireland and over 2.5 million departed from Cobh. This makes Cobh the single most important port of emigration long ago. The Cobh Heritage Centre is packed with history and stories throughout which allows you to go back in time and discover traditions, heritage, feelings about emigration and what it was like to have to emigrate many years ago.
Fota Wildlife Park
If you are looking for a memorable experience with your kids, Fota Wildlife Park is for you. What I love about the park is that it is not like an ordinary zoo, you can come face to face with free roaming animals and birds from all parts of the world. Watch the expression on your child’s face as a kangaroo hops in front of them or as they feed the spectacular birds or as a ring-tailed lemur jumps down from a tree. The park is located on 70 acres and allows you to come in contact with free roaming animals, along with giving you the opportunity to see highly endangered species such as the Rothschild giraffe, European Bison, Lion Tailed Macaque and Scimitar Horned Oryx. An experience you and your family will remember forever. Fota Wildlife Park also offer a Behind the Scenes Tour that gives you a chance to peek at some behind the scenes activity and even get to feed some animals.
EXPLORE YOUGHAL BY BIKE
Exploring a town by foot is great but can you imagine how much more you could explore on a bike? We would recommend renting a bike from Youghal Bike Hire and peddling your way through the seaside town of Youghal. Youghal has so much to offer so be sure to explore the local beaches, nearby villages, woodlands, boardwalk and local countryside. You can stop off for a bite to eat along the way or even cool off with a refreshing swim. The staff at Youghal Bike Hire will help you to pick a bike that suits you. They are also happy to help you plan your trip and pick out some key places to explore on your bike. A great day out with a bunch of friends or a fun family outing.
CASTLEMARTYR HOUSE GALLERY & GIFTS
If you are looking for a creative, artistic experience, this gem is for you. As you walk through this shop in Castlemartyr, you can see the passion for art and crafts shine through. The owners found their passion for the arts while travelling the world and they brought this passion back with them to Castlemartyr and opened this gem in the heart of East Cork. Their shop is all about sharing their love for arts and crafts by showcasing unique displays from artists and giving people the space to exhibit their creativity. This is not just a gallery or a shop, it is an experience to remember.
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